By Brian Jewell
Courtesy National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
With a trio of major cities and a landscape that varies from rolling hills to Great Lakes shores, Ohio offers an incredible diversity of group travel experiences. The Buckeye State’s blend of urban sophistication, small-town charms and historical significance means that tour planners have a large menu of attractions and activities from which to choose when creating itineraries.
In the metropolitan areas, visitors will find a wealth of museums and cultural opportunities. A pair of first-rate art museums stand out in Cincinnati, and Columbus has a great botanical conservatory that offers hands-on experiences for groups. In Cleveland, a new aquarium opening this month promises a world of underwater adventure.
In other parts of the state, attractions help to preserve fascinating aspects of the area’s history. Groups can visit a War of 1812 monument on a Lake Erie island or check out three museums that trace the state’s major role in the development of flight.
Use this spotlight guide as inspiration when you start thinking about your next trip to Ohio.
Dayton’s aviation heritage
The Wright Brothers may have made their famous first flight in North Carolina, but the pair designed their airplane at their bicycle shop in Dayton. Today, visitors to the city and nearby Miami County can explore aviation history at a trio of museums.
At the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, visitors can see a re-creation of the bicycle shop where Orville and Wilbur Wright researched and built the world’s first airplane. Next, at the Historic WACO Field and Aircraft Museum in Troy, groups learn about the historic WACO Aircraft Co., which built commercial and military planes from the 1920s through World War II.
Finally, the nearby National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world. Exhibits include more than 300 aircraft and missiles, including a wide range of modern fighter jets, bombers and other fascinating planes. A special hangar at the museum also has a display of former presidential aircraft through which visitors can walk.
Cincinnati’s Art Museums
The southernmost city in Ohio, Cincinnati boasts a dynamic duo of museums that could keep art lovers enthralled for days.
The Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in the United States, opened in 1886 in the city’s Eden Park and billed as the “Art Palace of the West.” Today, the museum houses a collection of more than 60,000 works that span more than 6,000 years of global art history. Notable pieces include ancient Egyptian statues and carvings, classical sculpture from Greece and Rome, and a wide-ranging collection of American and European decorative arts.
The Taft Museum of Art, a much smaller museum, has collections of Chinese porcelains and European decorative arts, as well as paintings by masters such as Rembrandt and Sargent, among others.